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Child Exploitation

Child pornography conviction results in 11-year prison term for Fresno-area man

FRESNO, Calif. — A Fresno-area man previously convicted of receiving and distributing child pornography has been sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison, following a probe by the agencies on the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Aaron Lewis Gaudinier, 50, of Madera, appeared in federal court Monday. Upon completion of the prison term, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill ordered that Gaudinier be subject to 15 years of supervised release.

According to court documents, between Dec. 14, 2011, and February 4, 2012, Gaudinier received and distributed more than 600 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Some images were of prepubescent minors and some depicted violence. Gaudinier has been detained as a danger to the community and flight risk since his initial court appearance Feb. 15, 2012; he pleaded guilty in May.

"Those who trade child pornography over the Internet and use peer-to-peer file sharing technology, mistakenly believe cyberspace shields them from detection by law enforcement," said Nick Annan, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "However, as this sentence makes clear, those who use the Internet to exploit children should be on notice, HSI, in collaboration with its state and local partners, is using every tool at its disposal to identify these online predators and bring them to justice – whether they are around the block or around the world."

In addition to HSI, the other ICAC agencies involved in the probe included the Madera and Fresno County Sheriff's Offices and the Tulare Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa prosecuted the case.

HSI's participation in the probe is part of Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.